Friday, January 31, 2014



january's ending and hush is the word

 i may not have posted about it at all this month but it has been much on my mind

words have many meanings, "hush" is no different

"hush" commonly means to make someone quiet, calm, or still

or to put something to rest

i think perhaps i have put something to rest this month... through a lot of work, and a near equal amount of introspection,  a healthy dose of faith and a belief in myself, i think i finally know what i want to be, what i want to do - i've known it for a long time but couldn't accept that it might be ok...

i'm pretty sure i was meant to be an artist

i'm supposed to make things - it's what i do and who i am

i'm slowly but surely cutting things from my life that don't fit with that, that get in the way of it, and establishing habits and processes that will feed it, nurture it and help me find my way

i've never been so happy in my whole life

it really started for me back in september when i met monica in the cotswolds and we spent a wonderful day together, much of it talking about art, creativity, leaps of faith, and trusting ourselves -
she inspired me so very much and those conversations have resounded in my head almost every day since

i finally got tired of wanting it and have started just doing it, making plans, big dreams, bigger ideas, moving in the right direction, taking those first steps, tentatively, walking fast now, getting ready to run

so here's january's heart...

a soft grey-blue and cream batik heart appliqued on to a raw silk background, fragments of old lace tacked on - it may look like one piece of lace, but it isn't... embroidery is next, adding another layer, all the colours soft and gentle

quiet, soft, gentle; taking small things, making a whole; joining them, healing them

new beginnings, new hearts

{one thing monica mentioned in her last post was she was going to start her blog posts with the pictures first and then the text following to make reading easier... i've been toying with that same idea for a bit and thought i would try it here - what do you think?  }

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

true blue...

love is blue...

remember that song?
{i liked this version the best}
it was one of my favourites when i was young, and it seems as i think about it, must have been a strong influence for my partiality to blue and grey

karen showed us how to do this last week and i was smitten, repeating the lesson straight away, using treasured bits of lace and silk purchased in london

 i really liked it, but i didn't love it...

 i left it to langour on my work table for several days, waiting on an idea for taking it further

 in the meanwhile, i tried again...

 this is better

this is me

 plaids and stripe... ragged bits of lace

blue and grey

blue, blue, my love is blue...

and so art imitates music...

can you tell i'm singing out loud?

Friday, January 24, 2014


odd how something as strong as linen can become so fragile...

this towel was truly on it's last legs when i pulled it from active duty, the fibres literally turning to powder in my hands

the machine embroidery has stabilized it somewhat, but still, it wasn't going to stand up to anything, let alone be a book cover

so rather than just placing bits of fabric behind the open spaces, i decided to back them in their entirety... that way, if the linen falls away even more, there will be calico to back it up - beautiful, old, blue and cream, adding to the aged look 

this shall be the front cover - finished now, just in need of stretching

only a little hand embroidery - french knots and feather stitch

exactly the right cover for a little book of my history in stitch

one lazy daisy flower

the back is next... I want to add a little embroidery, but i really want this book to lie flat, so nothing dimensional

i'm beginning to think the little bits of lace on the towel might be enough

 letting the texture take centre stage

 {i almost hope the rest of the towels wear out soon}

fragility is a good word, don't you think?

fragile things make you look at them a little differently, taking care...

i've been on a mission this month, establishing new patterns, new routines, good habits, taking time, making time
and it's all good when most of the rest of your life stays in place

but new habits are fragile things

easily broken

they need to be protected

i've learned that this week, and i'm happy to say, learned it well

 one thing i started this year, on january 1st to be precise, was to work my way through the book "the artist's way"

i have done the daily three pages of writing every single day, almost always before 9:00, and loved every line

i've kept the artist dates and spent time exploring, playing, reading and learning - i won't give those up without a fight either
although i have had to get creative with how i fit them in

i've made a conscious effort to use what i have, even when it wasn't exactly the right thing, especially when i knew i could go out and just buy the right thing

and every night when i go to bed i write down five things i can do for myself the next day

five things for me

we're always taught to be selfless, think of others, be charitable

those are certainly good things to be

but life is fragile, as are we ourselves

and i've found those five things are the hardest to think of and the hardest to keep

meditate, stretch, eat a salad, have hot chocolate with hot, buttery cinnamon toast to dunk in it, wear a pretty scarf, find new books for the night-table...

write a note to my daughter, send a letter to my mother, watch my husband's hockey game

you might think the latter are things done for others, but they truly are done for me - i feel better about myself when i pay attention to the people i love

 i like that me

i want to be healthy, feel worthy, be happy, be kind

 i want to love life; i want to love me

so every night, i think of five things i can do the next day that help me to take care of me

at the end of the day, when everyone else is taken care of,
what five things might you do for yourself?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

the next best thing...

remember this - my lovely brown monthly planner?

i've had it a couple of years now, saving it for something special, something worthy, waiting on an idea, a really good idea

none came... 

 the other day, as i was looking wistfully at it's empty pages, i was thinking the next best thing to finding a calendar like this would be to find one filled with someone's plans and dreams and play-things

daily jots of comings and goings interspersed with thoughts and things - chicken scratch in the margins, ideas jotted quickly, with that urgency that tells you the author was afraid it might be a fleeting one

and i realized finally i wanted it to be me that filled it, with whatever crazy ideas i get, and notions i have

 here is week one

 there are two spaces for each day; the upper one is where i'll write my plans for the day i.e. "work" or visits, or dates with friends
the space directly beneath it will be where i'll write what creative things i did that day, or plan to do... we shall see, it's evolving...

the blank upper page is where i'll put in samples of what i've done, scraps and leftovers, bits and pieces, remnants of a week's work

this week has been all about the diamond jubilee quilt

 i cut a piece off the tea towel and basted to one of the diamond-shaped papers

and then did a little machine stitching on the water-colour painted one

 i love how they look but am not sure the towel will work for diamonds - it's awfully stiff and is so fragile, even with the stitching; i'm not sure it would hold up

 then i got really brave and cut the thinnest strip into four equal pieces

this i love

i'm thinking sashing of some sort for the quilt
i think it would be fabulous
and the tea towel would work well there, whether in place of, or in addition to, the lace

doesn't matter - i love, love, love this

 i'm so glad i started this book, this planner - at the end of the year it will be a wonderful record of where i've been, what i did and the things i made

freda asked a question in the other post, about clamping the signatures for my books...

i use three large clamps and two strips of book-board (left-over from making covers)
the strips are about 1" wide

once the papers and card for the signatures are all assembled (no holes poked yet) i line them up evenly and place the book-board on each side of the stack, flush with the fold

then the three clamps are put in place

this helps compress the papers and card, pushing them together and flattening them a little more than what you can do by hand or with a bone holder

i usually leave them for at least a day, sometimes two or three... it really does make a difference in getting a nice compressed spine to your hand-made books

so, my pages are ready to be sewn together and today i cut out the front and back covers for my book

tomorrow the fun really begins

i have a few new folowers to my blog - thank you, and welcome - it's nice to meet you!

 i have been trying to respond to the comments you have all left for me, and to get around to your blogs - slowly but surely i am getting there
every day i get a little more caught up on things, a little more organized

it's definitely a process!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

my mom would be so proud...

hey ma, this one's for you...

twelve or thirteen years ago i was perfectly fed up with how quickly my tea towels were wearing out so i found some nice white linen and a few short hours later, i had hemmed a nice tidy pile of brand new white linen tea towels

there is just nothing like a linen towel for drying dishes...

a few weeks ago i decided this one had "given up the ghost" as my mother likes to say

yesterday i attacked it with my sewing machine...

free-motion embroidery with snippety bits of lace and linen, fragments of doilies from projects past

 here i've laid it on a piece of creamy white silk
 thinking of what i might do with all these holes - bits of fabric and/or lace appliqued beneath, adding threads and wrapping them as in hardanger embroidery... lots of possibilities

lots of holes

i found a pretty fragment of embroidered cotton for the largest one and have tacked it in place and begun adding french knots

 lots of work left on this cloth, many hours, but i don't mind a bit

it served me well, all those years, and very obviously saw a lot of hard labour and rightly deserves as much tlc as i can give it

it's my intention to use it for the cover of my stitch history book

how's that for making do?

Monday, January 13, 2014

mucking about...

knee deep in thread and snippety bits of fabric and lace...

i had such fun in my sewing room today - more fun that i have had in a very long time

playing around with several ideas, experimenting, taking chances
sometimes i get so attached to how something looks that i'm afraid of mucking it up

the piece below is a case in point

the first thing i was afraid of messing up was a good-sized chunk of my salt-spattered mauve watercolour paper... i really like it, a lot, and if i messed it up, well, there isn't any more

you'd think i'd have a little more confidence, especially when working with fabrics and lace that i really like, but to be truthful, most days i don't

karen showed us this wonderful technique over in simply stitch three the other day and hers was stunning 

today i had to try it for myself...

standing at the window, holding it in my hand, turning it this way and that, happy with what i had done

i laid it on the worktable and as i picked up my rotary cutter to move it out of the way, i wondered what it would be like if i cut into smaller strips

i was in a dither for a bit, feeling an overwhelming urge to cut it yet afraid to make a mess of it...

finally i just picked up the cutter, held my breath and cut a narrow strip off
i loved it
really loved it

i wanted to cut it up even more and play around with it, but fear stepped in again and i've left it for now... i'd rather look at it tomorrow with fresh eyes and decide then

think twice, cut once

in the meanwhile i added some embroidery to one of the paper diamonds, to get a feel of how that might go

i like it but am not convinced

this playing i'm doing, trying out different things, i'm hoping it will help me make design decisions easier as i move forward with my diamond quilt idea 

i'm hoping...

did i tell you i bought another packet of diamond paper shapes and have been basting even more of them?

i really do need to have something of a plan in mind before i use them all up because i am not buying a third package unless i know i need it!

but in the meanwhile, i am having a wonderful time

Sunday, January 12, 2014

play days

we had a big snowfall the other day

i got up to a beautiful, magical white world all around me
sitting in the living room, reclined in the wingback chair by the front window, this was my view

the trees across the street are massive, and oddly enough, when i look out at them from my sewing room window which is one floor above, i can look up and see the tops of them stretching high in the air, but they never look as big as they do from this vantage

i suppose it's a design truth, something to do with compartmentalization and all that...

i've been thinking a lot about design lately

 i found some painting i did long ago

watercolour washes that were sprinkled with various things like salt

studying effects

this plummy grey one caught my eye and i cut a few diamond shapes to play with
 they're going in my "john lewis likes diamonds" ledger book

{john lewis is the store in london where i bought the book - it's cover is grey - sigh, and the diamonds are the theme for my next quilt}

i cut several so i could play around with different techniques on them - tomorrow i am going to try some embroidery, and perhaps some cutwork

i love the "frostiness" of them

 tucked under them was this scrap of embroidery i did a while back

perfect for my stitch history book
(i really must think of a better name for it while i'm at naming things...)

 i've prepared all the signatures and they are in the spine clamps right now, getting compressed for a nice binding fit
tomorrow i am hoping to get the binding done but i still have not figured out the cover...

 i've decided that i don't have to do the chapters in chronological order, but i've made a list of everyone and everything i want to include and i'll do each as the mood strikes;
examples of where i've been, where i am, and who i met along the way

this bit below is indicative of where i've been for the last few years - rumpled fabrics, soft colours, geometric and floral; rectilinear and curvilinear - yin and yang

 the next bit is representative of the first patchwork i ever did

scraps of fabric my mom gave to me

i laid them out, with all right sides facing, and an overlap for joining... a simple running stitch held it all together

i didn't really like how it looked, sewn that way, and then neighbour lady's visiting mother showed me how to put the fabrics right sides together and sew the seam, folding it open, with the seam then on the back, out of sight

i was thrilled, hooked, over the moon

what you see here reminds me of that first piece - i remember a bit of fabric that was striped and had lots of bright orange in it, placed like this, on the right, with the lower edge angled

i just kept adding on

i have no idea whatever happened to it - it never did get finished, but disappeared like so many childhood things

the memory is here though, and the images and feelings as fresh in my head as when i could see and touch it

once the book is bound i'll attach this to a page and write it's story

 when i first decided to do this i wondered how i would find enough memories to fill a book

i have a really bad feeling this might turn out to be just the first volume...